Adventures in Friendship
It seems unfashionable, these days, to be in search of friends (perhaps even more so than to be in search of a spouse). I have looked at those around me, convinced that their social calendars (and hearts) were full, only to find, later, that they craved greater connection and community, just as I did.
I have always been excited about friendship, looking high and low for kindred spirits, sometimes referring to myself as a “collector” of friends.
God has surprised me with friendships; real and meaningful connections from some very unlikely quarters. These stories seem like the stuff of fiction, but, for me, bear witness to the incredible power of God to make connections where He chooses. I’d like to share a few of them with you.
I met a dear college friend because I arrived about a half-hour early to retake the math placement test. I’d been miserable the last time I’d taken it, since I’d tried desperately to place into a high level class by taking the advanced version of the test.
It did not go well.
I was new to college, and tired and cold. I just wanted to sit down. This girl came and sat next to me, and we began to talk, finding out that in this sea of secular students on a campus of 10,000 plus, we were both Christians. We exchanged numbers, and took the test. I passed that time.
I wasn’t going to call her. I was nervous, and I thought she might find it odd, even though I thought we’d hit it off. I’d been burnt before.
She called me.
We were good friends through college, even after I moved away to go to school in the Midwest. There was a time when we ate lunch together three times a week and talked about everything under the sun. It’s amazing what closeness can come of such intentional proximity. This may be the only time I consider math to have been useful for life.
My dental appointments used to take a long time. It’s hard to talk when the tools are in your mouth, but my hygienist and I had so much to say. After quite a few visits where we had to stop laughing quite so hard, (so that no one would get suspicious, after all, who laughs heartily at the dentist!) we decided to get together outside of the office. She and her husband and I would play games and go on adventures huckleberry picking in the mountainous woods. Every once in a while, she would remind me to floss.
It started simply, having conversations with the owner of a small boutique which I frequent, while I shopped. It’s an intimate space, and possible to carry on a conversation from anywhere inside. Slowly, we got to know each other, sharing a little more every visit. I would recommend books, she would challenge me on pattern-mixing. We discovered that we both love the Lord. Now, we’re friends outside of the store.
One of my favorite stories happened many years ago now. I finished reading a book that I loved, a piece of fiction. I related to it strongly, and it stays with me, even now. I think of the characters often, counting them among my friends.
I wrote a email to the author, drafted on a yellow pad so that I could think it out first, and told her how much I loved her book.
I did not expect to hear back.
She wrote to me, before the day was over, and since then, we have been friends. We have shared deep and hard things with one another, praying, sometimes with tears, as we journey together. There have been, and continue to be, days when I would face something truly awful and come home to find an email from her, telling me that God had placed me on her heart that day.
We have never met in person, still, I consider her one of my very closest friends and confidantes.
Lately, I have been meeting people all over the place, perhaps most notably, online. I’ve been reaching out to people, and they have been reaching out to me. As we reach, sometimes tentatively, hoping that the connection we feel is reciprocal, we hope.
Last month, I wrote about a woman I met at a yard sale who asked if I wanted to be friends. That incident may have been the most-commented thing I wrote about all month. We have spoken, and made plans to connect, thankful, I think, that one of us wasn’t just being polite.
I’m still a collector of friends, I love to make new ones, to cultivate ones I’ve walked with for a while. I mourn those who are only for a season, long after they are gone. Sometimes, I watch those seasonal friends return for another time, sometimes not.
The people that God has brought into my path have been as varied as the ways He has created the intersections of our lives. No wonder friendship feels like an adventure.